New Zealand protestor Karen Brewer's chilling threat as expert warns risk of anti-vaccination terrorism is real

Conspiracy theorists who believe networks of communists, pedophiles and Freemasons are using COVID vaccinations to carry out a worldwide depopulation campaign are calling for a coup and the mass execution of "traitors" in New Zealand.

While these remain fringe beliefs, these activist groups are becoming increasingly militant - and a legal expert warns we need to take the threat of anti-vaccination terrorism seriously.

On Tuesday, a planned protest for "millions of people" to overthrow the Government in New Zealand and Australia went ahead. Most of New Zealand didn't care and didn't turn up.

Nineteen people were arrested for breaching alert level 4 restrictions, among them organiser Karen Brewer, who has been calling for a coup where politicians, bureaucrats, media would be tried for treason.

"I believe the most efficient way to go about that is to utilise the local stadiums. One end of the stadium would be a common-law court. The other end would be a gallows because the penalty for treason is death," she said in one video before the protest.

Police say Brewer has been charged in relation to failing to comply with the Health Order, and Brewer revealed she'd been released on bail on the condition that she stay at home.

Police Commissioner Andrew Coster told The AM Show on Wednesday police had "put forward our views" about this.

"I can't really comment on any decisions by the court but obviously we put forward our views at the time of bail being considered," he said.

"Most protestors have understood that protests can occur online and that now's not the time to gather but unfortunately a small number are still choosing to gather which is creating a risk for all of us."

Brewer isn't the only one advocating for a coup. Another conspiracy theorist and protest leader, Damien De Ment, has called for an uprising to overthrow Jacinda Ardern.

"We are all planning a bloodless coup to get ourselves out of harm's way and remove her," he wrote on Facebook.

How dangerous is it?

A movement incapable of turning out more than a handful of people in New Zealand's largest cities is unlikely to suddenly become capable of organising a coup.

However University of Waikato Professor of Law Alexander Gillespie warns we need to take the threat of terrorism seriously, especially if the Government uses compulsion or pressure to increase vaccination rates.

"Although anti-vaccination terrorism is not a historical trend, there is the potential for this to grow. This will be especially so once some of the difficult decisions that have started to occur overseas, start to happen here," he told Newshub.

"There is a correlation between the extreme-right and the anti-vax movement in some countries and New Zealand already knows what damage the extreme right can do. Anti-vax terrorism has already occurred in Poland."

These links between the extreme right and anti-vax movement are already here.

Elliot Weir, the features editor for Otago University Student Association magazine Critic Te Arohi, spent six months undercover in Action Zealandia, a New Zealand neo-Nazi organisation that aims to create a "pure" white ethnostate.

They warn the group is spreading "misinformation and fear" about COVID-19 vaccinations.

"One member said they were 'starting to believe it aligns in a depopulation agenda,' linking the vaccine to prominent white genocide conspiracy theories and echoing the idea that Jewish people developed the vaccine to sterilise and depopulate the world," they wrote.

"That idea was pushed by a guest on their podcast in early July. Members pressured other members to not get vaccinated, and discussed ways to avoid getting the vaccine if their workplaces mandated it, including falsifying vaccine documents."

The coalescing stew is dragging in everyone from QAnon conspiracy theorists, and vaccine deniers to white supremacists, neo-Nazis and even pastors. How do we deal with all this?

"It's a balance, between protecting their rights to protest and free speech, but at the same time, not allowing these to get to the point where they become physically dangerous to others," Prof Gillespie says.

"The bottom line is that death threats should not be tolerated."